Sunday Readings: Exodus 3.1-8, 13-15, 1 Corinthians 10.1-6, 10-12, Luke 13.1-9
Jesus spoke this parable. A man had a fig tree that had been planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the gardener: “Look here! For three years now I have come looking for figs on this tree and found none. Cut it down. Why should it take up space?” The gardener said, “Sir, leave it one more year while I hoe around it and manure it. Perhaps then it will bear figs. If not, it shall be cut down” (Luke 13.6-9).
The gospel parable emphasizes mercy, growth, turning toward God. The gardener argues for fertilizing the tree another year. Who likes to cut down a tree? If we think of the gardener as God, then God is nurturing, caring more about another chance for the tree to bear fruit than about threatening to cut it down. If we think of the tree as ourselves or our children, who doesn’t need or won’t give another chance to grow?
A friend enjoys getting older and observes, “I’m not right as much as I used to be.” Our daily interactions cultivate conversion. Like the gardener we nourish and encourage one another. Listening to others can cultivate the fruit of compassion or courage or insight. Other believers may freshen our commitments. As humans, we have the gifts of mind and heart to discern what Jesus asks of us.
In what ways are you like the owner of the fig tree? In what ways like the gardener? What questions or doubts about God’s compassion are you living with?